Know Your Enemy for Ant Control in Louisiana
Nobody wants ants in their home—or even in their yards—in large numbers. Depending on the species, these pests can cause structural damage to your home. They can also spread disease organisms by contaminating food, not to mention give you painful bites. Bug Ninja Pest Control provides Baton Rouge pest control to keep ants and other pests away from your home and family.
When the weather begins to warm, look not to Punxsutawney Phil and his shadow, but to the ants. They are one of the first animals or insects to start moving around each year. You know it’s spring when you start seeing them, and if you’re concerned about having them in your home, it’s time for an ant treatment.
Ant species eat several different types of food. While some go for nectar and sugary substances, others will eat seeds and fungus. Seed-eaters may store seeds inside their nests, while those that eat fungus may even grow it there. Many of them eat small animals and other insects as well as dead meat; this helps maintain a healthy habitat for all. For water, ants may drink from raindrops, dew on plants and puddles. Some foods, like nectar, give them the moisture they need.
As social insects, ants live together in large groups, known as colonies. Some colonies can grow to include several million members. Many species use soil and plant material to create underground nests, which are interconnected by tunnels. Some also make their nests in mounds of soil above ground, and some make their home in trees.
All Ants Have a Job
The sex of the ant distinguishes the work it does. Like bees, ants have a queen who is in charge, and her job is to lay eggs. She lays thousands of them each year to replace workers, who typically die after a few months. Queens can live for several years, however. If the colony is very large, there may be additional queens. Males are typically smaller than females and are known as drones. His only purpose is to mate with the queen, and he dies soon after.
That leaves the majority of females responsible for building nests and tunnels and fighting off enemies. The workers will attack predators; protecting the nest is everything to them, and they will die for it. Ants have mouths and can bite; some can also sting. Many also have toxins they can spray on enemies. Predators that eat them include birds, spiders, bears, toads, beetles and other ants.
Female workers are also responsible for finding food and feeding the queen and her babies. They typically carry food and water back to the colony by swallowing and holding it in a separate stomach. When back inside, they regurgitate it for the others to eat.
When baby ants hatch from their eggs, they appear similar to larva; they do not have legs, but they do have a small head. It is at this stage that the workers begin caring for and feeding them. In summer, new queens and males, who all have wings, fly from the nest to mate and begin new colonies. When starting a new nest, queens remove their wings; other females don’t have wings.
How They Communicate
Some ant species are as small as 1/16 of an inch, while larger ones can grow to an inch. Many are black or red, but some are brown or yellow. Ants have six legs and big heads that sport compound eyes, but they have poor sight and communicate with each other by touching heads and antennae or by rubbing legs against their bodies. They can also communicate with chemicals that their bodies produce. These chemicals alert others to the location of food and, if the nest is under attack, ants can produce chemicals that act as an alarm to others so they will return and help defend the colony.
They are related to wasps and bees and have three separate body parts: the head, thorax and abdomen, with a slim connection between thorax and abdomen. They are sometimes confused with termites, but a termite is identifiable by the connection between its thorax and abdomen, which is much wider than an ant’s.
There are 12,000 species of ants throughout the world and more than 700 species in the United States. The good news is that only about 25 species invade homes. Some of them include the following:
Smaller workers typically work inside the colony. The larger ones forage for food, and it is these you see in your home; you may need ant control to get rid of them.
Treating Ant Bites
Most ants are harmless to humans, except for fire ants and carpenter ants. Although their mouths are tiny compared to any part of a human, imported red fire ants can bite and sting, and you will know it when they do. They can be very aggressive in protecting their nests and, if they sense a threat, will swarm the intruder. They bite, clamping their jaws to give themselves a stable base, then sting over and over, each one several times.
Stings result in red, swollen bumps that blister on top. They hurt, can itch and remain on the skin up to a week. Although not typically dangerous, some people may be allergic and can have dangerous, even fatal, reactions that occur soon after a sting. Watch for signs such as difficulty swallowing or breathing, nausea and dizziness. If you have any of these reactions, get medical attention right away.
Treat milder reactions by washing the area bitten with a gentle soap and water, then apply a bandage to help keep it clean and prevent infection. If the bite is painful, try applying ice or a baking-soda paste first. If needed, over-the-counter creams and antihistamines can help reduce itching and pain.
DIY Ant Prevention
One ant does not an infestation make, but when you learn their nature, you understand that where there is one, there may be more on the way. There are several things you can do to prevent ants from moving in, and they all focus on making your home less inviting. Their size means they can enter a house through the tiniest of cracks. To help limit access, you need to do a thorough job of sealing, by caulk or another method, every little hole, crack and crevice you can find. This includes caulking around doors, windows and other points of entry such as where cables run through the walls of your house.
When workers find a good source of food, they lay down a trail of pheromones, or chemicals, to lead others to the food. Humans can’t see the chemicals, but you can see the line of ants following them. Because they are always looking for food, be especially careful to maintain a clean kitchen and keep food sealed tight, especially if you store opened items in the pantry, like cereal and crackers. If you eat in other rooms of the house, clean up afterward and vacuum regularly to remove any stray bits.
If you have pets, you may leave a full bowl of food out all day and night, which is tempting to ants. Consider feeding your pets only once or twice a day and picking up the bowl in between feedings to make it less attractive to pests. If you have outdoor pets, this is a must. Another option is to mix three parts vinegar with one part water and spray it around your pets’ eating area; if you have messy pets, you’ll need to clean up any bits of food when they’re done eating as well.
Another solution is to set bait stations at possible entry points. However, you will need to maintain these stations. Bait may not be a good option if you have pets or small children, who may ingest it.
Outdoor Measures to Take
There are also some outdoor measures for Baton Rouge pest control:
The idea behind these measures is to prevent trapping moisture underground, which attracts pests to breed there.
Time To Contact Professionals
You may be able to kill a good number of ants with sprays and baits. But it’s a temporary fix unless you can locate the colony and destroy it. That includes killing the queen and all her eggs, which she lays several times a year. If they return, they may bring additional pests into your home that are looking to eat them, which only compounds your problem.
Your best option for ant control is to contact a professional company that can track and kill ants and their eggs, even in hard-to-reach areas. Let the experts at Bug Ninja Pest Control develop a plan for year-round ant treatment to rid your home of pests and prevent new infestations.
I really enjoy researching and writing about pests. The more we know about bugs, the easier it becomes to control them.